15 December 2014

Weltschmerz

Weltschmerz |ˈveltˌ sh merts|nounfeeling of melancholy and world-weariness.ORIGIN German, from Welt world’ Schmerz‘pain.’

"A Study on 12.14.12", 2012. Combined media on paper, 14x11".


I doubt I would be an artist, or be so devoted to art, if it did not allow me to explore and express grief, anxiety, dismay -mine and ours. In the quiet of image-making I contend with disquietude. In solitude I reflect on social events and conditions far beyond my circle of influence. With empathy, curiosity, outrage, admiration... I engage with sorrows I cannot touch in any other way. 

There is room in art, and in my art, for the whole spectrum of human emotion. I do revel in it, celebrate and marvel through it.  But I believe art will always have particular value to me as a place for concerns and confusions that are difficult to bring to light elsewhere. It can be, in this way, a form of prayer. 

This is not melancholy, nor pessimism, but a way of creatively responding to the unwelcome, the difficult to embrace. More and more often I am called to make beauty and meaning where beauty and meaning seem lost or hard come by. As I mature in life and art, I feel all the more confident that I can answer that call, that it is one that must be answered.

05 December 2014

Flow

"May what I do flow from me like a river -no forcing, no holding back- the way it is with children."
-Ranier Maria Rilke

Deep & Wide, 2005. Oil on canvas, 14x18".
It has been nearly two months since I mused on "nesting". These past weeks have been full of the unexpected -both pleasant diversions and troubling distractions. And still it surprises me that I have yet to find a flow in the resumption of my studio practice.

After thirty years of steady drawing and painting, it is not difficult to pick up the pencils and brushes. It is not hard to put the tools to use. What seems to demand more time and patience is regaining intimacy with the entire process. Image-making still feels more like an activity and less like a state of being.

If there is a gift in this prolonged and awkward transition, it is the revelation of just what the alchemy of art requires, not just materially but spiritually. It demands undisturbed solitude for sustained concentration and effort, adequate time to savor and assess the work, to be "at home" with it.

This experience confirms my devotion to guarding that solitude and its productive routines in the first place. But as possible, whenever, however possible, protect that fundamental connection with the work, the flow.

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A artist living and working in Missoula, Montana.